A 20-year-old video clip of Barack Obama hit YouTube on Thursday. The future president appeared on a televised “Black History Minutes” segment in 1991, the same year he graduated from Harvard law school.
The early video, originally broadcast by TBS as a public service announcement, may have been Obama’s first-ever appearance on national television.
The president made this video some five years before running for a state Senate seat in Illinois. The script, which he either memorized or read from a teleprompter, concerned the accomplishments of Charles Hamilton Houston, the African-American lawyer who taught Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
Obama’s voice in 1991, far lower-pitched and more measured than what Americans are accustomed to in 2011, is only marginally recognizable.
“The distinguished lawyer Charles Hamilton Houston was born in 1895, eight months before the Supreme Court’s ‘separate but equal’ ruling in Plessy vs. Ferguson. He spent his career fighting to overturn that decision,” Obama intoned. “As director of the NAACP legal campaign, Houston masterminded the strategy that eventually led to the historic decision of Brown vs. Board of Education.”
Presuming the TBS public service announcement ran during February, which is traditionally acknowledged as Black History Month, Obama was 29 years old at the time of the broadcast. He was identified on-screen as editor of the Harvard Law Review.
As the 2012 election cycle heats up, the Obama campaign should expect more early videos to be unearthed as Americans take a closer look at the early beliefs of their president. The Daily Caller has already reported on another early video from Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, in which he tested talking points that he would become more familiar during his 2008 White House run.
Obama’s approval numbers have fallen precipitously as the economy has deteriorated. Additional vintage videos of the president may yet emerge for the benefit of a public more eager than ever to vet their future leaders.